Opera: Web standards could eclipse Flash

Chief executive Jon von Tetzchner says HTML 5 means Adobe's ubiquitous Flash platform will no longer be necessary for delivering rich media
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The next revision of the HTML web language will make Adobe's Flash technology largely redundant, according to the chief executive of browser company Opera.

The open web standards included in HyperText Markup Language version 5 (HTML 5) provide a viable alternative to Adobe's proprietary Flash for the delivery of rich media web content, Jon von Tetzchner told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

Opera is one of three browser makers — the others are Apple and Mozilla — that have been working on HTML 5 since 2004. The work is being conducted in the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (Whatwg).

The Whatwg was formed in response to a perceived slowness in the World Wide Web Consortiums's (W3C) development of HTML, and its work has since been fed into the W3C's HTML working group.

HTML 5 includes many revisions to the website-writing language, such as new application programming interfaces (APIs) to control audio and video content. Although HTML 5 is unlikely to be presented by the W3C in its final form until 2012 at the earliest, many of its features can be implemented today — as Microsoft has done in Internet Explorer 8.

Von Tetzchner said that HTML 5's handling of rich media meant that Flash — Adobe's ubiquitous, proprietary multimedia platform for the web — is becoming largely unnecessary. "You can do most things with web standards today," von Tetzchner said. "In some ways, you may say you don't need Flash."

Von Tetzchner added that his comments were not about "killing" Flash.

"I like Adobe — they're a nice company," he said. "I think Flash will be around for a very, very long time, but I think it's natural that web standards also evolve to be richer. You can then choose whether you'd like [to deliver rich media content] through web standards or whether you'd like to use Flash."

Given its widespread use in delivering rich media content on the web, Flash's proprietary nature has long been of concern to web-standards watchers. Adobe's Open Screen Project, launched last year, was partly aimed at opening up the platform's APIs to allow greater interoperability and consistency in Flash's implementation.

ZDNet UK approached Adobe on Thursday for comment on von Tetzchner's claims, but had not received a reply at the time of writing.

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